He was weakening. The wounds were sapping his strength, slowly devouring his life. He was still strong, but had stopped running, realizing the dogs could track him forever. He stood in the middle of their circle. They sat on their haunches, watching, waiting for him to make a mistake.
He was hungry, he had not eaten for many suns. Food was scarce, the lichen and grasses needed rooting. He pent his time running. The wolves waited watching, content to wait, knowing they had an assured supply of food. Their mouths hungered to rip apart his muscles, their tongues longed to dip in his blood.
He yearned for rest. His body, battered and bruised by the fights, exhausted by the long flight, wanted only to lie in a secluded thicket, until it had gained its strength, then it would give the curs a challenge, let them feel his power. The dogs, however, did not crave a fight, they did not relish the idea of meeting those antlers, they were interested only in food.
His breast was filled with hope of escape. He saw his chance, a young bitch, barely more than a pup. She sat on her haunches, her starved eyes watching his every move. She was too eager, too confident, he could break through her. he need only cross the space, tat empty ground which separated him from her. When healthy he might make it in a single bound, now it might take three, two if he was lucky. More likely he would collapse before he had reached her, brought down by the pack. If he should break past her though, he would be free.
He summoned his strength to him, tensing for the spring. The wolves, for all their watching did not seem to see his tension.
He charged, head lowered. The she wolf flew through the air, landing with a yelp inside the circle. Within seconds he had left the pack behind. He ran for his life once more, with renewed yet unfounded energy. Hearing no sounds of pursuit, he slowed to a walk, then stood still, his sides heaving. His ears quivered, searching the cold night air. Even his nose could not pry the scent of wolf from the secretive zephyrs.
Relieved, he lowered his snout to the ground, and began searching for his dinner. He unearthed a small patch of autumn shriveled grass. The scent tickled his nostrils, taunting his stomach. There was another scent there to, something which made him uneasy, but could not ear him away from his repast. He took a few nibbles off the withered plants, then shot upright. The recognition of the smell came to late, the circle had returned. He stood once more surrounded.
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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1991